Video: F-4 Phantom II tribute

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The McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II is a two-seat, twin-engined, all-weather, long-range supersonic interceptor fighter/fighter-bomber originally developed for the U.S. Navy by McDonnell Aircraft.


First entering service in 1960, the Phantom continued to form a major part of U.S. military air power throughout the 1970s and 1980s, being gradually replaced by more modern aircraft such as the F-15 Eagle and F-16 Fighting Falcon in the U.S. Air Force; the F-14 Tomcat and F/A-18 Hornet in the U.S. Navy; and the F/A-18 in the U.S. Marine Corps. It remained in use by the U.S. in the reconnaissance and Wild Weasel roles in the 1991 Gulf War, finally leaving service in 1996. The Phantom was also operated by the armed forces of 11 other nations. Israeli Phantoms saw extensive combat in several Arab–Israeli conflicts, while Iran used its large fleet of Phantoms in the Iran–Iraq War. Phantoms remain in front line service with seven countries, and in use as an unmanned target in the U.S. Air Force.

The Phantom II originally was developed for U.S. Navy fleet defense. The U.S. Air Force's first version, the F-4C, made its first flight in May 1963, and production deliveries began six months later. Phantom II production ended in 1979 after over 5,000 had been built -- more than 2,600 for the USAF, about 1,200 for the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, and the rest for friendly foreign nations.

In its air-to-ground role, the F-4C could carry twice the normal load of a WWII B-17. The armament loaded on the aircraft on display is a typical configuration for an F-4C in 1967. It consists of four AIM-7E and four AIM-9B air-to-air missiles, and eight 750-pound Mk 117 bombs. The aircraft also carries two external fuel tanks on the outboard pylons and one ALQ-87 electronic countermeasures (ECM) pod on the right inboard pylon.

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